Man pleads not guilty to murdering driver on Seattle street

Man pleads not guilty to murdering driver on Seattle street
Thomas Dinh Bowman is seen during his arraignment in King County Superior Court on Monday, October 8, 2012.

SEATTLE -- With the victim's friends looking on, a man accused of fatally shooting another man at a North Seattle intersection pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Thomas Dinh Bowman, 29, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 43-year-old Yancy Noll.

The two were stopped at a red light on Aug. 31 when Bowman allegedly fired five shots from his car, hitting Noll in the head. Noll died at the scene while seated behind the wheel of his car at NE 75th and 15th Avenue NE.

Detectives initially investigated the case as a possible road-rage incident, but King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott O'Toole said Monday that police still have not determined a motive.

"There may have been no motive at all. And that's even more chilling and disturbing," he said.

Prosecutors said Bowman tried to conceal the crime by replacing the window and tires on his BMW. Staff at a tire shop where Bowman had his tires changed told investigators that Bowman and his wife insisted on taking the four old tires with them, according to court documents.

Bowman was arrested weeks after the killing when police received an anonymous tip from someone who said Bowman matched the description of the suspect in the killing and that he drove a silver BMW like the one seen in surveillance video on the day of the killing.

Police said they also found a so-called "gun room" during a search of Bowman's home. It was filled with bullet-making equipment, ammunition and rifles.

In court on Monday, Bowman let his attorney do the talking as friends of Noll sat in a viewing area wearing buttons that read "Cheers to Yancy Noll" in memory of the man who worked as a wine steward at QFC.

"Yancy was such an amazing person. When you spoke with Yancy you mattered, and you knew that you mattered in that moment," said Brad Kenny, who was friends with Noll for nearly 20 years. "He was compassionate, and kind and generous. He tried to look for the good in everybody, and I think he found it. He brought that out in all of us."

Kenny said he and Noll's other friends plan to follow every step in the case against Bowman.

"You cannot bring justice to a crime like this," he said, adding that Noll's friends hope to see Bowman jailed for the rest of his life. "That's still not justice because you can't take something like this back."

Bowman is being held at the King County Jail without bail.